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I think I've learned a lesson

I recently needed to buy a copy of Microsoft Office Professional. I chose to look for an item on eBay. Now, I've used eBay before and it's not always been a positive experience, especially when I tried to buy Titanic, The Musical. However, I still use the site for buying and selling of this and that. So, when I saw a copy of Microsoft Office on there for about 30, I was chuffed. I won the auction and waited for the CD, which I assumed to be someone's OEM version that they didn't need with their PC.

What's too good to be true...

There's a good rule to use. If a deal is too good to be true, then it probably isn't true. I should have expected it. I got a CD-R through the post. I wasn't impressed at all. Now, if I'd known that I was getting a CD-R, perhaps I would have felt less aggrieved. If, I'd known it was a CD-R, I probably would not have paid 30. It's just profitmongering on the part of the person who was selling this CD to put 29 markup on the costs of making a CD. I wasn't pleased at all.

As a comedian, my immediate reaction to things I don't like is to make a joke of them. My reaction was to list an item on eBay called Definitely Not Microsoft Office XP Professional on CD-R. You can have a look at a cached snapshot of the page here.

The problem was, that someone bought it. In fact, they bid against each other for it. Then I added to my woes by listing it a second time.

In one way, this was fun. People were bidding for a non-item and were prepared to pay me good money for what was, essentially, a CD-R with whatever I wanted to put on it, burned onto it. All I had to do was make sure that I didn't put Microsoft Office on there, or I would be breaking the agreement to provide "Definitely not office". On the other hand, though, I had people who had bought something and no real idea of what I should actually provide to them.

When one of the buyers identified themselves as an employee of Trading Standards, I should, perhaps have worried. Had the joke gone badly wrong?

Well, to be honest, I don't think that it turned out as funny as I would have liked. The responsibility of having to provide SOMETHING and the actual thing I sent in the end, rather took the shine off. However, I think that the contents of the CD were amusing enough, and both buyers gave me positive feedback, so I can walk away from this silliness without any real loss.

So what did I send?

Well, I didn't send a copy of Microsoft Office. I had considered sending a copy of That would be quite a nice way to introduce people to the open-source Office clone. However, I didn't send that. My original plan had been to send a song, but the effort of writing it, rehearsing it and then recording it proved to be too much. However, I was MCing at a gig in Fleet and thought that telling the story and getting the crowd to help me record a message to the buyers might be a nice warm up. It wasn't. They were a disinterested crowd. However, with a bit of a voiceover to help the recording along, and with my backup plan, I got something onto the CD. The backup plan had been to do a Pick of the Pops style version of Microsoft Office, reading the contents of an Office installation over the well-known backing track used on that programme. I had a go, and it made me laugh.

Track 1 - This is not office
Track 2 - Not 'arf-ice

What did I learn?

I learned nothing. Maybe the nightmares will stop, now, though.

16 April 2006
Ashley Frieze